The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence. 

Day 12: How Can He Marry Me!?

“You have a lot of first world problems. You complain about wanting to travel more, or if people who already like you actually like you. Frankly I don’t think you should be complaining about all the small stuff” – Eddy Chow

Just had a hard talk with Eddy… and I feel so terrible. We’ve been together for almost 4 and a half years and for some reason a lot of stuff has been coming up lately. He mentioned how he feels like I’ve had a continuing resentment toward him… always envious or bitter about whatever he’s doing, when he’s never especially happy doing anything. But somehow I always think he is. Somehow this “grass is greener” mentality STILL hasn’t gone away. I feel like I’ve been doing SO MUCH to strengthen my mind, change myself for the better, etc… and SOMEHOW the person I love the most in the world has fallen by the wayside. I’m about to MARRY this person, and I can’t even take care of him. Instead I always wish he would take more care of ME, or think about MY feelings. Ugh it’s so disgusting to even just write that down. How am I still this selfish!?

Goddamn. What a thing to admit is actually true about yourself. Here I was thinking I was making all this progress, but suddenly the selfishness rears its ugly head. And apparently it’s been showing itself a while. How do I get rid of this monster? HOW AM I NOT AUTOMATICALLY THINKING ABOUT HIS FEELINGS?!

This week has been rough, because along with all the wedding stuff, Eddy went back to work and we’ve both had to change our schedules. I’ve had to walk Han more during the day, wake up earlier and leave work earlier. I feel spread SOOOO thin this week and barely been getting sleep, so I really blew up last night after a massage. I guess a lot of negative energy I’d been harboring manifested in a stiff neck that took forever to make feel better. My shoulder still hurts where Jackie massaged out a gigantic, stubborn knot.

Ugh I always feel like I’m really starting to see from other people’s perspectives and care about others, but Eddy just opened my eyes to the fact that… no I’m not. In theory I am because I appreciate watching shows and reading books about it, but am I really walking the walk? I may seem like I am to other people but… apparently I’m not.

I didn’t even think about Eddy’s feelings about the whole situation. He brought up that I wasn’t thinking about Han’s either. He said this has been the hardest week of Han’s life…the equivalent of humans just out of school getting their ass kicked by reality, and for some reason I was still getting angry and complaining about my own shit. Poor Han really has been through a lot this week… being left at home alone for the longest he’s ever been.

And poor Eddy has never even really been separated from him since he was 8 weeks old. Although he always liked Han, it still took him a while to get used to the fact that he’s a different dog than Einstein, and I know that made him really sad for a while. But since then he’s become really attached to Han… being like… his dog mama. Working from home he was with him all the time, and apparently not being with Han has been weighing on Eddy’s heart a lot this week, but I didn’t even know.

I asked Eddy why he doesn’t complain about stuff, and gosh it hurt MY heart to hear that he assumes I would just know by now. And how, if I’m still acting envious of him I really don’t understand him as much as he thought I did. AFTER ALL THIS TIME ELORA REALLY!?!?!? I DON’T EVEN DESERVE TO MARRY HIM WTTTFF!!!!

I really hate my personality types sometimes… really in times like this it brings me solace to know that I’m a type 7/ENFP because I’m reminded that my mind isn’t broken, it just needs a little help (Eddy said that too.. so nice T_T). I’m naturally just so all over the place and noncommittal that it might not be a natural part of my DNA to understand how to truly care about people. I DO of course but…man maybe it was also being an only child that made me so self centered. I think I have gotten at least a little better over time but geez… this damage is taking a hard time to reverse, and it’s so upsetting to me that Eddy is feeling all of it.

I need to get my shit together… no I should stop saying that. That doesn’t mean shit. I DO need to start feeling truly empathetic rather than think of it in the hypothetical sense. And I ESPECIALLY need to start taking care of Eddy more. It makes me so sad that he doesn’t even wanna “bother me” with his feelings/problems because I’m always so goddamn busy with other shit that’s way less important. He told me today that his stomach has been hurting for days and he thinks he has an ulcer! And I’m like WTF WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING!? HE DIDN’T WANNA BOTHER ME!!! I ALSO need to stop caring so much about the surface stuff. Eddy says “you gotta stem the tide!” meaning… when I feel an emotion or get overwhelmed by these waves of thoughts, I need to learn to diffuse them by breaking it down into smaller thoughts that are a lot less overwhelming. HOW IS EDDY EVEN STILL WITH ME!??! Gosh I’m such a pain in the ass and lucky he’s so patient and has stuck around :\

God I can’t wait till this wedding is over. I’m really discovering a LOT that I need to work on ;___; Getting a puppy + wedding combo is really doing a number on me… but I DO feel like it’s forcing me to level up. I guess I’m just on the grind right now… but I believe it’ll get better. Just gotta stay positive and lear from my mistakes. Man this shit should be part of my vows.

HA! Just checked my email and this is super appropriate.

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Day 10: The Past is Always Bittersweet

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” -Joseph Campbell

It’s been pretty good lately! Also busy. I feel like I’m always in some sort of transition period but… when I think about it, aren’t we all? Like, ALL the TIME? It’s pretty easy to get our ass handed to us by life, and I guess it’s not typical to just be super content and satisfied. As far as I can tell, everyone always is dealing with some kinda shit. I really do feel though that transitioning HAS been my main focus lately. Maybe it always was?

Anywho. Yesterday Eddy started work so we have to SERIOUSLY learn to stagger our schedules so that Han isn’t alone for too long. That means that if I have anything planned after work, I have to leave super early to get there on time. It’s amazing how little time there is after work, especially if you’re someone who gets up really early, like I’m trying to be. Sorry it’s just NOT THAT EASY TO GET TO BED BY 9PM.

Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist who I ended up lying to that I’m still on meds 😐 At least I have a new prescription in case something WERE to happen and I really needed them. I explained to her that I hated being on the meds because I never felt the same joy like I used to, and needed to constantly be high in order to feel anything really. I didn’t like that she told me to stop smoking weed, but when you think about it, psychiatrist and doctors, anyone who prescribes pharmaceutical meds really, of COURSE wouldn’t like weed cuz it’d be taking away their business! But in any case, as long as I’m not on my meds I feel fine and don’t need to be high all the time to get through my day.

Something she DID say though that was useful, is that rather than use weed to make me feel joy, I should try to do things that are fun and not “SECRET CHORES.” No one has ever told me that before… SECRET CHORES. I told her “oh yeah I’m getting back into meditation and yoga and that’s been fun” and she’s like “well those are still self care things to do… find something that’s not a secret chore.”

Dude she is SO RIGHT! Gonna make more time to have actual fun in the near future. It kinda sucks because I’m trying to do so much now… Oh gosh should I try to list what I’m attempting right now?  Maybe that would be healthy, who knows.

  1. Transitioning off my meds and learning to control the depression and mania on my own.
  2. Transitioning into dealing with my bipolar diagnosis in general.
  3. Waking up at 5am to walk Han, leave for work by 7, and leave work to come back home by 4pm.
  4. Eating a healthier mostly plant based diet.
  5. Getting in a consistent workout schedule, running MWF, weight training TTH, yoga daily.
  6. Working with April to create wooden signs for my wedding.
  7. Centerpiece art for wedding, trying to get them printed in time so I can ask for help to get them painted around Friday. Need to test how different paints will work on the transparencies before then.
  8. Video for the wedding
  9. Attempting to do personal doodles to at least work out these thoughts I’ve been having lately
  10. Trying to find someone for Han to stay when we get married, which involves multiple meet and greets
  11. Communicating with a hula instructor
  12. Trying to get to sleep by 9pm

It’s actually not as bad as I thought, because in my head I recognized that there are actually more things to DO, but I didn’t list them because they’re not my current priority and I need to finish these things before I even START thinking about those things. That’s progress, right?

Today I was talking to Bre about art… and art has been a sore subject for me for a while. I’ve been depressed about it for probably like 10 years now, but I finally feel like I’m making some mental progress in the art field. Today though talking to Bre a little bit of the bad feelings slipped through again and I think I need to talk about it.

Almost 3 years ago I made the conscious decision to fully disappear from all Social Media. I had tried multiple times before but kept going back, but it was my dad’s death that made me stay off facebook because man… I had a lot to work on. Looking back, the person I was before my dad’s death seems sorta… unrecognizable to me. In a good way though. I’m learning to look back and not hate the me I used to be, but rather try and focus on the progress I’ve made along the way. And also be really happy that I’m not like that anymore.

Bre’s been sending me those talks between Dave Rapoza and Dan Warren, which are FANTASTIC. It’s really nice that they talk about real shit on there… it’s super relatable and man… totally sounds like what I’ve been going through for years. Bre told me that she wants to start trying to incorporate story into her art, and how she really wants to learn to gain more happiness from her art and share it with more people. She’s already such a fantastic artist, and I guess I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy when she said that. Then I was like… wtf why do I feel JEALOUS. i should be happy for Bre because she’s really starting to come into her own and get into a rhythm blahdeeblahblah. And I AM happy for her, because I know she struggles with a lot of the same shit that I do… and maybe for that reason I can’t help but feel a bit bitter.

Months ago these feelings would have been WAY WORSE mind you. Something I just realized. What I just felt while writing the word “bitter” is only a sliver of how upset and jealous I used to get… which is a really good thing. I’m so happy to have recognized that progress 😀 And I think the reason why is because I know that EVENTUALLY I’ll get to that point where I can vomit out art and actually express how I feel, but for some reason something is still holding me back. And THAT’S where the bitterness comes from. I know that Bre spends a lot of time painting, and I think the jealousy also comes from knowing that she has time to do it. I mean… no one’s really got time, you have to make time, but I can’t help feeling a little bit stuck because of the wedding (again, ANOTHER feeling that ruled my life a couple months ago).

I’m feeling really RESTLESS, and I’m trying to tell myself “just a little more just a little more you’re almost done with the wedding” but at the same time I’m like “pssshhh whatever you can MAKE time even WITH the wedding” and then ALSO at the same time “BUT IF YOU DO THAT YOU’RE GONNA BE OVERLOADING YOURSELF AND SPIRAL INTO DARKNESS AGAIN NO DON’T DO IT”

Today I was telling Bre that I used to get on my ass so much about having wasted time, or regretting my past. But now I can tell I’m in a better place because I can see that as much as I feel that way, what I did in the past shaped who I am now. Listening to Dave talk about his past is also validation in a way. Today he was talking about working professionally and how over time you get used to it, care less and get more comfortable, which is totally the stage I’m in now. They were talking about how of course it would be impossible to balance your time when you’re still in that stage of getting used to working in the industry, and people should know to be a little easy on themselves during their early 20s/while they’re in that phase, because it’s almost EXPECTED of you to be shitty then. Because I’m now starting to feel that separation between personal/work life (partially due to the forceful influence of the wedding but also because I’m getting used to being at WB) I can relate to what he’s saying, but I’m still not at the point where I can feel ok about my art.

These conversations between Dave and Dan are great, but I can’t help thinking like… they’re already great artists though. They’re just looking back on their journey but… they’ve been able to achieve way more than I have artwise, and developed skills that I can’t really hope to develop now especially because I want kids. Yeah I related to what they were saying, but I guess maybe I’m not ready to listen to artists yet. To venture into that art world just yet. That part of me still exists where I can’t help but compare myself to their achievements, and although I told Bre that I can look back and not feel like I wasted time… I still feel BAD about it. Looking back, my early 20s seems like some VOID OF TIME that I can’t even REMEMBER. Like WTF WAS I DOING THAT WHOLE TIME!? I guess it was a whole lot of partying, going to gallery shows, meeting people, drinking, taking classes, and going to the Magic Castle. But I really hate that… I dunno I guess I can’t even remember gleaning much wisdom or knowledge from that time. When i get home from work, Han is spastic… just rushing at me with all this energy. Looking back I feel like I was more like that… just kinda LIVING and not really… soaking anything important in. :\ I am so glad I met Eddy and started on this path because… as jealous as I am of dogs just living, I see now (that I just wrote this) that eventually that type of “only living in the moment” lifestyle can only lead to depression. Come to think of it, I think I was probably manic for most of that… how else would I be able to do so much, drive from orange county to LA all the time, and still work, do homework and hang out with my bf? Ugh geez… no wonder I crashed into such a hard and long depression. Seriously until I started taking the Latuda and stopped feeling the symptoms of depression, I don’t think I even understood how BAD the depression was. I had already accepted it as a state of living, and couldn’t remember functioning any other way. Probably lasted around 7-8 years of being full on in it.

I’m so grateful for where I’m at right now.

That being said, back to art. Especially after realizing that about depression… I guess I should be easy on myself (like Dave said) because I had this mental illness the whole time that I didn’t realize that I had, and RECOGNIZE that I couldn’t have possibly achieved balance with art because I was unconsciously dealing with that. I’m still jealous though that some people are able to work THROUGH their depression and create something great. I never learned how to express myself through art, because I was so focused on getting a job in animation that I just tried (and failed) to make things pretty or fit in to the animation standard. I guess it worked ok since I’m now actually working at a union studio thank god, but I really do feel like most people I know have drawn so much more than I ever have in my entire life. I was just so goddamn distracted all the time, first by people, then by my depression, that I wasn’t ever really able to attain a strong skillset like basically EVERYONE I know. And now that I’m already at this stage in life where I’m getting married and planning to have kids, it makes me sad knowing that I (see I wanna use the word WASTED here) use up all my best years of exploration and experimentation on shallow pursuits that ultimately mean NOTHING now.

But UGH ELORA. REMEMBER THAT ALL OF THAT WAS LEADING YOU HERE. I guess that’s not so bad. Through that butterly effect/6 degrees of separation thing I suppose everyone in my life now who I love is a result of all that past I’ve lived, and I need to just learn to own it and get over it.

UGH WITH ART THOUGH!!! I can’t GET OVER that I wasn’t able to express going through my darkest times with ART. I LOVE how you can see artists progress over time, change styles, deal with various issues… like someone’s story is shown THROUGH THEIR ART. There’s such a huge chunk of STORY in my life that I WISH i could show through art… but backtracking now just wouldn’t be the same. I feel like this will always be one of my regrets… but I need to learn to get over it someday. I don’t WANT it to be a regret.

Maybe I need to stop wanting to ARCHIVE EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME while I’m at not making that a regret. I fucking HATE that human need to archive everything because we’re fucking MORTALS. I take a gazillionbillion photos and never even DO ANYTHING WITH THEM and all it does is create some dumb pressure that I need to do something with them eventually but it all just ends up piling up and up and up and…. that’s what I’m doing with my art too. I keep writing down little notes everywhere, on post its, etc… but gosh when I look back on them to finally do something with it, I feel like that moment has passed and the magic is gone.

Just like this page of shit I wrote when I was driving super high to Karen’s house and attempting to scribble down my thoughts… I remember feeling SOOOO great like “I JUST WANNA DRAW RIGHT NOW I WISH I WASN’T DRIVING. AWWWW IT’S OK ILL JUST DO IT LATER” but then I NEVER FUCKING DID IT and now… geez just LOOK at this page. SO UNINTELLIGIBLE I CAN BARELY EVEN MAKE OUT WHAT I WROTE! Such a bummer man.

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HOW DOES ANYONE DEAL WITH ALL THESE THOUGHTS?!?!! Mortality is so goddamn fleeting I wish we were just given a fucking manual sometimes and been told what to look out for and when so we don’t feel like such failures or always wanna kill ourselves >:0

It’s ok. I’m learning how to be positive. I swear. 😐

Day 6/7: Overflowing With Gratitude

Yesterday was a blur and I thought I’d have time to write at the end of the night but I got so wasted and passed out! So this is technically an entry for yesterday (day 6), even though I’m writing today (day 7) and I’ll write another one tonight because I feel like this is just one of those like…really important weekends.

Anyway.

I feel like I’m literally overflowing with gratitude right now for so many reasons, and I wish I could remember this when things get rough…hopefully I do. But I guess that’s why it’s good to write these, right? Everything that happens in our lives is such a unique moment in time that we share with everything around us. It’s all connected and even THAT is worth appreciating. But yeah.

Yesterday I had to leave early to visit my, I call her my pseudo mom, Karen. Even though I had to leave early, it was Eddy’s last day before going back to work on Monday so I wanted him to bring Han by the office to meet my showrunner’s dog Kiwi, and also to see where I work and have lunch with me during the day before he goes back. Just the fact that my showrunner is so cool that she would urge me to bring our dog into work to meet her dog (dogs aren’t allowed btw) made me so grateful to work where I work ;_;

Working in animation really offers a flexibility that you don’t really see in other more “normal” jobs, and I think when I get into a dark headspace I fail to remember that. On my good days though, I’m able to step back and be like “Holy shit I made it. I’m here, this is where I’ve always wanted to be. I’m SO LUCKY.” Yesterday was one of those days.

It’s also SO dependent on the crew you find yourself on. Talking about this, I can’t help but remember the jobs I had where my supervisors didn’t understand me. Like working at the garden nursery in Newport Beach and being told not to bring dolls to work and also to dress nicer, or the retail shop in Yorba Linda where my supervisors turned my desk around so they could monitor what I was looking at on my computer. Working in animation, I feel like they understand that artists’ minds work differently and the flexibility accommodates for that. But even still…the current crew I’m on like…as long as we finish our work then basically anything goes.

It was so nice to see Eddy during the day. The more time goes on, the more I feel like he’s my rock. He grounds me and even if I’m feeling uncomfortable, everything changes when he’s around. He really is like the other half of me that is able to calm me down and make me remember that life is worth living. I wish we had done more lunches during the day because now it’s too late… the 6 months he had unemployed and we never did it once until the very last day. It taught me a lesson to seizethe day more. Carpe diem is a saying for a reason, and I think I’m just now really starting to feel it. It was so nice to take a break during the day and visit with Lynn’s dog, then go eat ribs in a park with Eddy and Han. I imagine that’s what heaven feels like…it really is a place on earth 🙂

Here’s a video of Han and Kiwi together! Kiwi is still just 3 months old so she’ll never be this small again! I wanna remember this ;_; I really wish more people could’ve seen Han while he was small. You really don’t know how quickly puppies grow until you have one 😦

Shortly after Eddy and Han left I had to leave work to visit Karen in Huntington Beach which is like a 2 hour drive in rush hour, but always totally worth it. She completely surprised me with an AMAZING wedding gift, even going to far as to make her boyfriend record her presentation of it to me for good reason.

Karen never fails to amaze me. I hate even saying it because she doesn’t like to think of age, but she’s about as old as my mom but chooses to see life as a gift, and so much more positively than anyone else I know. To me, she transcends age and gives me hope that if I work at it, I can someday be like her. I guess you could say she’s a mentor to me, but she’s way more than that even…you know it’s like one of those things where words aren’t good enough to describe her. I love her energy and how she chooses to live her life. Both her and her boyfriend Jay are an inspiration to me, and I’m beyond grateful to have them in my own life.

She just came back from going to like a billion countries in Europe for school (she went back to college for a degree in her 50s.) Jay was explaining that the whole time she kept telling him that she wanted to get me a present, but that it needs to be meaningful. She always thinks “well Elora is an artist, she would appreciate this” sorta thing. I’m very much not a materialistic person who likes things because they’re expensive or a certain brand. I love things that are different as sentimental, and Karen is that way too. Boy did she deliver.

She presented me with something called “legendary lace” from a small Island in Italy called Burano. She went to tour this lace factory which I can’t even really describe so here’s a link. But she told me they were saying that 7 women made the lace handkerchief she gave me, and only together could they have made it. The lace is so gorgeous and fragile and special, I got so choked up because I dunno…I feel like with her giving me this lace it’s the beginning of a family heirloom that I want to pass down. I’ve always loved the idea of tradition and meaningful items that are embued with the power of those who came before, and I really do feel like this is exactly that. I was excited to tell Amy about it, and she describes it as a magical quest item which it totally is! Karen says that in olden times, due to the importance of this lace for trade, the women making it were required to stay on the island and leaving would be punishable by imprisonment or death (it doesn’t say this online, I’m assuming it’s from the tour she did.) Obviously they don’t do that anymore, but in my mind there’s something magical about these ladies coming together to create something so delicate and beautiful.

On the way to Karen’s I was thinking about art and how essentially what it is, is an expression of those fleeting moments in time. It’s the attempt to grasp a feeling that’ll be gone in an instant. And to me, this lace that Karen gave is a representation of just that. When she got it, she didn’t even know I had 7 bridesmaids, but it was 7 maidens who made the lace. Coincidence? I think not. More like a reminder to cherish the important people in my life because they make me who I am.

After the glorious and beautiful bachelorette party my girls planned for me last month, Amy (maid of honor) had mentioned that working with them as a group made it clear to her how each one of them was a reflection of me. Years ago I was terrified I wouldn’t even have bridesmaids if I were ever to get married, cuz I never really had good girl friends until now. It’s shocking to me that somehow I have 7, and really I need to be more grateful to all these girls on a regular basis. Amy is right… Really thinking about it, anyone who knows me well enough can break down why each of those girls is in my life, and why I chose them as my bridesmaids.

We can’t share our full selves with anyone. Everything in life is so reactionary, and who we think to share moments with, only THEY can share that moment, no one else. Our friends, everyone we interact with really, sees totally different and unique parts of us. And the friends we choose to keep around and continue to interact with, over time collect fragments of our souls and hold onto them like no one else can. The people important to us will always hold a part of our hearts that no one else can ever have… and I feel like that’s what this lace represents. 7 maidens make a whole. And even better, these lace makers are all women who would pass their knowledge down from mother to daughter. I can’t wait to use it on my wedding day cuz I’ll be bawling like crazy, but using it will basically be like I have my 7 bridesmaids and Karen there as a shoulder to cry on (in the form of lace handkerchief lol.)

Here’s the lace and Karen’s poem that she wrote to accompany it 😀

Last night was amazing. Karen and Jay took me out to a great dinner and dancing afterwards. Something amazing about Karen is she lives life with no regrets, and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks of her. We were dancing like fools (way more than anyone else in the bar) but just being with her gave me the energy and courage to also not give a shit, something I wish I could take back to my normal life. And I can! Who’s stopping me really?

I just need to make more of an effort when those irrational moments of fear or self consciousness set in — What Would Karen Do? 🙂

 

 

 

Day 5: Today Was A Pretty Good Day

Mood Diary: 0

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate” – Norman Vincent Peale

Considering how bad yesterday was, I’m surprised at how nice TODAY was. I’m not even sure if it’s because I learned from yesterday or not, but all I can say is that I think I’m already doing a better job being aware of things. Or maybe it’s the Summer Solstice and the weather was just really nice? Haha who knows!

Something that’s becoming clear is that I need human interaction. Most days I hole up in my corner at work and don’t speak one word to anyone… and those are the days where I feel like shit. Yesterday I felt so awful and knew I should try to force myself to talk to someone, so I got up and was literally shaking walking down the halls to see if anyone wanted to walk to get food with me. Finally one of my friends came, and rather than hide how awkward I felt I chose to tell her about my disorder and also about my anxiety. She was really understanding, and even did my little anxiety dance with me where I saw too many people sitting at a table and I fled in fear.

That was REALLY hard for me, which is why I remembered that today and made a point to talk to people. The weather was gorgeous out, so I went on a walk with 2 separate people and we even came across a hummingbird feeding its young! What a beautiful sight! Gotta share the video because it was just so cute! Hummingbirds are my absolute favorite birds and my spirit animal 🙂 Sometimes when I’m manic and unable to slow down I feel just like one, beating my tiny wings way too fast just trying to survive.

I really feel like…being outside reminds me that we humans are creatures of nature, and we don’t belong at desks. Rather than be negative about that as I usually am though, I chose today to recognize that, like it or not this is the life I’ve chosen. I like my friends, and my life here is a lot better than I think on most days. I really need to be more grateful.

That’s something else that hit me hard on the walks. When you take the time to check up on people on a more regular basis, you realize that everyone is going through shit just like you (obviously) but a lot of the times, way worse than you. Being holed up at my desk, yeah maybe I’m gaining new perspectives watching people talk on youtube, but there’s nothing like talking to real people who you know in the flesh. It’s SO IMPORTANT to talk to those around you, see what’s happening in their life, and remember that not everything revolves around you.

I’ve been getting really into Deena Kastor’s book Let Your Mind Run. Although it started off slow for me, about 2 hours in when she meets her running coach it really picks up. More than running, it’s about learning how to shift your mindset to be more positive, but what I think it does better than other self help books is that she uses her memoirs to describe how EXACTLY her mindset was shifting. She explains how to counter specific negative thoughts she was having, and how over time she felt her energy actually change which is something that I’ve experienced but haven’t known how to explain. I guess you could say that this book has validated my own experiences and lets me know that I’m on the right path.

One part that I especially loved today that was super inspiring was her talk about losing a race and she was so disappointed. Her ever positive coach kept telling her that she did a good job, and that the fact she was disappointed showed that she was invested, that she cared. When you think about it, it’s so simple — transmute the failure into motivation. Realize that there IS positive reasoning behind the negative feelings. Disappointment is rooted in the desire to be better…find the light within the darkness. If you think “this is as good as I am,” you eliminate your own power and allow for self judgement. Change that to “this is as good as I am today” and it allows for growth while returning power to you.

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening” -Lisa M Hayes

Another nice thing I encountered today was in a podcast Bre sent me with artists Dave Rapoza, Dan Warren and Brad Rigney. It’s so strange because I feel like synchronicity has been at work lately with having the right information fall into my lap. I’ve distanced myself from the art world for so long that I’ve stayed away from art talk of any kind, but hearing the questions that their listeners would ask was so surreal to me because I was able to tell how far I’ve come. I also really enjoyed listening to their talk about depression, starting at 2:58:30. One of the guys was talking about exactly what I was talking about above, how he has to force himself to go outside or he’ll go into the depression spiral, along with going to the gym 3 times a week.

I’ve been running a lot more, and getting back into doing Yoga With Adriene who, by the way I missed DEARLY. It’s so dumb how even when we find things that work for us, life gets in the way and we somehow stop then things get worse again and you somehow find your way back to something you could’ve just kept up with the entire time. I’ve been doing her peace series on the members only part of the site, but considering she updates weekly I think I’m gonna restart her Yoga Revolution series which was her first yoga series that I felt changed my life. I am also SO grateful for Adriene’s channel because really… even more than the Headspace meditation app, the way she teaches yoga heals my soul. I feel like I’ve reunited with an old friend that’s able to soothe this chaotic mind of mine 🙂

 

 

 

Day 4: I FEEL TERRIBLE.

Mood Diary: -2

 Lol I’m quickly going into the depression spiral, but trying my best to keep my head above the water. I guess that’s what this blog is for though… to get these thoughts out when I have them. So here we go.

Yesterday was pretty bad, and I thought today would be better but it’s really… not? But part of me is wondering if I’m doing it to myself. Almost like I was “expecting” it to happen, or I’m like… FEEDING the beast rather than just chillin with it.

I’m doing this experiment to make observations and provide a control variable to me on meds, but today I’m starting to see like… HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS because of how strongly the emotions pull me along. It’s super difficult to step back and just look at them, which I feel like I was able to do on the Latuda, and it was a refreshing change.

So why can’t I do it now?

Some patterns I observed today:

  1. Less motivated to do things
  2. Looking at myself in the mirror is absolutely awful… I swear I see myself differently now and think “piece of shit” more than “hey it’s coming along…”
  3. The old habit of dreading any social interaction but being totally ok with it when it actually happens is coming back. An old coworker brought in his daughter today because she’s like the biggest fan of the show we’re working on, and it REALLY brightened up my day for like an hour. It reminded me of why I’m working in animation in the first place, how much cartoons can make a difference in people’s lives, and how meaningful they are to especially children. Omg even just typing this is bringing a smile to my face 🙂 MAYBE THIS IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT?!
  4. EATING BAD FOOD I JUST ATE A BURGER AND FRIES TO FEEL BETTER! From an expensive not so great food truck no less! SIGH.
  5. Focusing too much on the negative and feeling like if I bring up the positive, I’m lying to myself
  6. Getting notes on an assignment and feeling like the world is over and I’m gonna get fired
  7. Getting too distracted to finish work at a reasonable time OH NO

I need to stop writing and finish my work.

Final thought though… Maybe I really do focus too much on this internal landscape rather than what’s happening in the real world. Maybe I’d be happier if I did that? I dunno… I seem to hate surfacey things but… most of the world that’s like all they talk about. How am I possibly supposed to fit in?!

Amy just told me that what I am right now isn’t me, it’s “Demonic Elora”… basically the beast is taking over… it’s no longer a friendly beastie. But I CAN tame it. That’s what the whole point is right? I just told her like.. it’s so strange because I think the biggest difference of my mind on the meds is that, when I’m on them it’s SO much easier to distance myself from the emotions. I might feel it a little bit, but then I can just step back and be like “nope!” then go on with my life. And it’s SO FRUSTRATING TO ME that I can’t do that right now! WHY?! Why is it so easy to let this take over?! And if this is always taking over my life, then I’ll always be obsessing over it… and if I keep obsessing over this… how can I ever like be a functioning normal human and have anything relevant to say in any conversation?!

Everything that happens in our days are reactions… and right now I feel like there are so many tiny triggers happening in my day that are just throwing me down the spiral… for some odd reason. If only I could identify those triggers–is it even worth it though?! Is this just me putting too much stock in these evil emotions? The line is so blurred I can’t tell what’s right from wrong anymore…

“Imagine your 14 year old self crying to you  about whatever was important at the time and you felt it SO STRONGLY then. It’s the same now. Yeah it’s hard to figure out how to get yourself out of these ruts, but it’s not that bad if we just stop feeling shitty about it first.” – Amy Chen

Day 3: Shower Epiphanies, Running and Dogs

I woke up this morning to find that Eddy had pulled an all nighter to finish freelance, and we ended up going to McDonalds to get breakfast. This is something we’d do SO MUCH in what I call our “old life” when we first started dating to about like a year ago when I tried getting really serious about our health, then we would only do it for special occasions like going to the airport or Disneyland or something. I realize though that the mornings where I do unexpected things puts me in a really good mood because it makes me feel like I have a life outside of work.

I’m trying to go deeper into understanding why work gives me so much anxiety, and I think it’s because I spent so long trying to get into the animation industry that I constantly feel unworthy and never wanna fuck it up. My mom raised me to be an academic, which in recent years when Christie told me about the MBTi stacking traits and the enneagram, I was told that I was being forced to function at my lower traits my whole childhood. I basically felt trapped and unable to explore, when exploration and learning through others and learning through doing are my primary function stacks that result in my higher learning. So basically being at work reminds me of being in school, and because I spent so long trying to please my mom with good grades rather than figuring out who I was at a younger age, I feel like I can never slack off or treat work like other people do. Hence the anxiety and not knowing how to interact with people at work. Not understanding the balance of work to play… The only times I was ever comfortable at work were when I was working at Roger’s Gardens and Style Addiction and basically had my own office away from everyone else. It’s kinda ironic because I love people but I can really only interact with them when I’m able to fully immerse myself in the experience, such as being outside, at a party, or… well haha anywhere but work xD So then I feel like nobody likes me since I never visit them at their desks etc. I’m realizing more and more that if I’m around people who I don’t feel comfortable enough with, it affects me way too deeply that it can set off my mood and make me hate the world during the day, which in turn causes me to stop focusing and not get my work done in time, leave late and fuck up my whole schedule and make me feel like a failure.

Wow that was a long tangent. I was basically trying to say that… doing stuff with Eddy in the morning that I would normally do like later in the day makes me feel like I’ve had an enjoyable full day of interaction with the loves of my life, Eddy and our pup Han, so it puts me at ease for when I get to work and sets my mood up for success. I already interacted with people at work today! So everything is happy! 😀

What I really wanted to talk about though was how eating the McDonalds made me really start to see how eating healthy changes your palette over time. The sausage egg mcmuffin and hashbrown used to something that made me HAPPY BEYOND BELIEF but now I can basically taste all the unhealthiness of it. It was still good, but definitely didn’t have the same effect on me as before. Right when we began dating, part of what made me realize Eddy was the one is how he would wake up early and grab me McDonalds breakfast and leave it on the bedside table so that I would wake up to it… such a knight in shining armor.

Anyway, when I went to run I had this pain in my lower stomach, similar to cramps but not really. I assumed it was from the sausage mcmuffin. Regardless, I forced myself to run 3 miles because I think I’m getting addicted to running O_O YESSS! What i’ve always wanted! I’ve hoped to be consistent enough to get addicted but could never force myself out… having Han helps since I have to take him out first thing in the morning anyway, so it’s nice that it gets me out of my shell enough to just suck it up and do it. But seriously now running gives me such euphoria, and I think it’s because I’m choosing to be mindful about it. I’m also really starting to see WHY it’s so important for people with mental illness to exercise, and why so many people, especially with depression, have said that running has saved their life.

I think one of the big things that started changing my relationship with running was the decision to stop listening to music and focus on my surroundings. I used to run high and tell myself “Ok Elora, now look through your 3rd eye” and when I would make the conscious decision to do that, I felt like I could feel the truth of everything around me. I realize now that what that actually means is being acutely aware of my surroundings. I find that when I do the 3rd I thing now, I essentially choose to focus on one sense at a time, like smelling the grass being mowed in the park or the fertilizer, listening to my steps hit the ground, the birds singing, squirrels chittering, today I heard that beagle Faith barking incessantly after them… feeling the dirt under my feet, the wind and sun against my skin… I find that focusing on any of these things rather than my thoughts helps me appreciate the world, appreciate existence, and also makes me feel like this is just the matrix so I need to not take it as seriously as I have been. It makes it feel like a videogame, and I find that over time my music has become the world. Running quiets my thoughts, and I feel like that aspect of “game” makes me feel like I’m never going to get bored of it.

I’ve been building a habit of, when I feel pain, to close my eyes and try to run in a straight line while counting to 10. In the beginning I would chicken out and think I’d run into someone coming my way, but today I counted all the way up to 30 without even cheating! (Like opening my eyes a lil bit) The pain in my stomach seemed like not even that big a deal, and sometimes I would even choose to meditate on it and FEEL it… but in the way that was interesting rather than intolerable. I wanted to go 4 miles even but I REALLY had to take a shit.

Here’s a link that Bre sent me yesterday with runner Deena Kastor talking about how mindfulness helps with HER runs too 😀

I’m trying out this pomodoro timer thing to make sure I don’t ramble on and on forever. You know really… it’s cool that I have this blog because I can type faster and more than I could ever WRITE BY HAND in my journal in 25 min. I have 8 min to go and have already written this much! 😀 I love the idea of the pomodoro because it’ll beep when I’m done and NO MATTER WHAT I’LL HAVE TO STOP.

Anyway! When I got home to shower, I had a sudden epiphany. Both me and Eddy are such messy people, but we’re both working hard to try and become aware of our bad patterns and fix them. I think it helps that we’re getting married this August, and I think it also helps that we have a puppy now. When our old dog Einstein died last November, it was a shock to our whole world because we started to understand that we HAD to change. Einstein was 16, and because he was old it made us be ok with just staying in, taking it easy, and living in filth because he couldn’t control his bowel movements and it was excusable.

Now that we have Han though, it’s like we have to get our shit together because he’s so new to this world (7 months now). I can’t even express how much he’s changed our lives… maybe someday when I have a full 25 min I’ll explain, but dogs really are such a gift to humanity. They have such great personalities and I dunno… remind me so much of humans but with the ability to truly live in the present and be a pure expression of love. They are so happy just being around you and don’t compare their lives to that of other dogs. They don’t feel envy… just love. I think humans love having them around for that reason. They remind you what’s actually important in life, and they don’t put up walls in the same way humans do.

OMG I’M ALMOST OUT OF TIME!

When I got in the shower after running I couldn’t help but instantly be disgusted. Neither of us ever take the initiative to clean, and I felt like I was just getting sick from all the mold in there, yet didn’t feel like I had time before work to clean the damn thing. I NEVER HAVE TIME. But I actually do. That mindset needs to change. Seeing this dirty shower really had an effect on me today… maybe it’s because my feet were super itchy for a weird reason. Maybe I have to clean my shoes? Or maybe I felt like I haven’t felt 100% for months and breathing in mold fumes wasn’t helping. But whatever it is I had the epiphany of “Do I do this to myself for a reason? Why do I let things get so bad before I actually do anything to fix them? Do I gain some weird pleasure from this?”

Regardless of what it is, it made me take a step back and look at my life, my mess, my chaos. I think I’m really truly starting to understand why people say that organization and cleanliness is a huge part of mental health. If I’m gonna do this no meds thing, I really need to start with cleaning my room.

BOOM! TIMER DONE! Looks like I can write a LOT in 25 min… woohoo!